June 8

Writing is Learning to Practice the Piano


When your father first commands you to play the piano, when you sit down on the cold bench, you don’t crunch out the fifth symphony, do you? You don’t even come close. You bang at the keys for fun, feeling out the sound and rhythm of the piano. Then you come back (a feat of its own), and try to learn the location of middle c, what a cord is. You hold an ear to other people playing the same songs you are trying to learn. You try to read sheet music with little luck. After practice, many wrong notes, you play a bar, a line, a page, then three pages, and finally a whole song. You do it once, wonderfully without mistakes. You have copied someone else. It took all of those steps and wrong turns to do even that properly- play only a handful of the notes possible on an instrument with a vast arsenal of keys.

It’s been two years. You learn more songs. Your fingers are magic on the keys. You jazz it up, get the soles of your feet to dance with the pedals. Add new notes to the crescendo. Eventually, you move like lightning against the keyboard, throwing in a fistful of black keys to spice up the tune.

By this point, you haven’t tried your own piece. Some never do.

Only now, do you even consider thinking what song do I sing, what makes my sound different?

Write eight songs that never come together. Write one that does. By this point you’re the last of us. By this point the margin of people you’re surrounding yourself with has drawn as thin as a violin string. You’re writing and playing your own notes.

Writing is trial and error. Writing is a long, drawn out process, a lesson after lesson, always learning, always failing. Always succeeding with every new step you take, whether that be two steps forward or one step backwards. Writing is learning to play the piano- the same thing, only a different sound of art. You keep banging on those keys for fun until they only thing left to say is that, “Practice makes perfect”.


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